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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday urged Democrats to keep the filibuster as he moves closer to a power-sharing arrangement in the chamber after relenting on his demand that the 60-vote legislative threshold be protected in writing.
McConnell (R-Ky.) recounted how he defied former President Donald Trump to keep the rule when it empowered Democratic minorities to block bills.
Two Senate Democrats publicly sided with McConnell on the filibuster issue Monday, so the Republican leader dropped his demand for written assurances before agreeing to a 50-50 power-sharing deal for Senate committees.
McConnell said in a Senate floor speech that he had resisted Trump’s pressure to kill the filibuster and that new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) should also stick to the requirement of super-majority support to pass bills, even if that slows President Biden’s agenda.
“President Trump and others pressured us heavily, me in particular, to scrap this rule when it was protecting the Democratic minority. But we stood firm. I stood firm, endured many tweets on the subject. I said we would not do that to our colleagues in the minority,” McConnell said.
“No short-term policy win justifies destroying the Senate as we know it, especially since laws would become so brittle and reversible.”
McConnell said that under Trump, Democrats “used the 60-vote threshold to shape and block legislation. They stalled COVID relief, they blocked police reform, they stopped even modest measures to protect innocent lives because I chose not to destroy the tool that allowed them to do that. That same tool that some Democrats now want to destroy.”
McConnell warned that “laws would become so brittle and reversible” if the filibuster for legislation is ended.
“The shoe would find its way to the other foot. When Republicans next control the government, we’d be able to repeal every bill that had just been rammed through. And we’d set about defending the unborn, exploring domestic energy, unleashing free enterprise, defunding sanctuary cities, securing the border, protecting workers’ paychecks from union bosses — you get the picture,” he said.
“But a few years later, Democrats would come and flip it all back. So instead of building stable consensus, we’d be chaotically swapping party platforms.”
But Schumer gave no promises in his own Tuesday morning speech.
Democrats are believed to be considering using a “reconciliation” process that allows just 50 votes to pass certain spending items as part of COVID-19 relief legislation.
“The work must move forward, preferably with our Republican colleagues, but without them if we must. We are still in the midst of a once-in-a-century crisis that has reshaped our economy and altered nearly every aspect of American life,” Schumer said.
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